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Council of Europe states adopt action plan on protecting refugee and migrant children

Date of Publication: 
5 June 2017
Summary: 

Action plan based on clear principle that migrant children should be treated first and foremost as children

Council of Europe states adopt action plan on protecting refugee and migrant children

05 June 2017
EIN

The 47 members states of the Council of Europe, including the UK, last month adopted an action plan on protecting refugee and migrant children.

The action plan - available here - is based on the clear principle that in the context of migration, children should be treated first and foremost as children, and it has “the best interest of the child” as its guiding principle.

It proposes concrete support to Council of Europe member states at all stages of the migration process and has three main pillars.

First, ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures. The action plan states on this: "Refugee and migrant children should be treated first and foremost as children. They should enjoy rights guaranteed to them under existing norms without discrimination. They should also receive accurate child-friendly information and have access to child-friendly procedures and services (including support for the victims of exploitation and abuse). The best interests of the child should be the primary consideration in all actions and decisions affecting them. Migrant and refugee children should be assisted in addressing the challenges that they face and in finding sustainable durable solutions to their situation which promote and safeguard their human rights."

Second, providing effective protection: "Refugee and migrant children must be effectively protected, according to existing norms protecting their human rights and depending on the specific needs and status of each child. The measures to be taken in this connection include ensuring appropriate accommodation in line with established standards (in particular for unaccompanied and separated children), prompt responses to disappearances, restoring family links, making every effort to avoid resorting to deprivation of liberty on the sole ground of a child's migration status and protection from trafficking, sexual abuse and other forms of violence.

And third, enhancing the integration of children who would remain in Europe. The action plan explains: "The social inclusion of all refugee and migrant children should be enhanced through education and training opportunities. Additional measures should promote the integration of children who would remain in Europe. Welcoming and inclusive societies should help refugee and migrant children grow up in a nurturing environment and provide them with support for their transition into adulthood. Participatory work with such children is vital to supporting their development and combating radicalisation. Integration through sport and promotion of diversity in media will help to build an inclusive society."

A brochure on the action plan here provides further details.

Upon announcing the adoption of the action plan, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said: "Today, the Council of Europe has agreed on concrete action on protecting refugee and migrant children fleeing war, violence and persecution. We must prevent children from falling victims to violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking, this is a moral imperative."